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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » The Randoms » Case on rights of a young teen to deny medical treatment

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Author Topic: Case on rights of a young teen to deny medical treatment
StrangePudding
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Member # 40765

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This is not exactly sexuality-related, but it's going on in my state so I've been following it in the newspapers every morning. There's a 13-yr-old, Daniel Hauser, diagnosed with cancer, and he's rejecting treatment based on mostly religious reasons. Here's a little background, if you're not familiar:

http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/health/45078517.html?elr=KArksUUUU

The judge ruled that he's not able to make a decision on his own and doesn't fully understand the consequences of denying treatment, and ordered him to go back for an X-Ray to see if the cancer is back. If it is, they're going to force him to have chemotherapy. Daniel's mother has disappeared with him and they're currently thought to be in California, trying to get to Mexico for alternative treatment.

So, I thought people here might have some interesting input. I think it's kind of related to young women having the right to make medical decisions re: abortions, although the stakes are maybe a little higher in this case. So, when is too young to be making a decision like that? How do we evaluate when a teen has the capacity to understand the medical choices they're making? Do you think the judge made the right decision? Do you think Daniel's parents have a case, since it seems like Daniel's wishes are in line with theirs? Just curious

[ 05-22-2009, 03:53 PM: Message edited by: StrangePudding ]

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KittenGoddess
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An article yesterday noted that the chest x-ray indicated that Daniel's cancer was progressing. Further, other discussions of the case indicated that doctors have estimated that his chances of survival with treatment are 90%, without treatment they are only 5%.

Just as a further note on this particular case...while I obviously do not have first hand knowledge of this case, several of the earlier articles I have read about it have indicated that Daniel has "has developmental disabilities that make it impossible for him to read and limit his understanding" (quote from this article).

Edited to clarify. I do not mean to indicate that those with disabilities are not able to make their own choices. However, this case is a little more complicated than simply a teen refusing on the basis of religion. Another article I read indicates that he told the judge that he does not believe he had any sort of illness.

While I do believe that people have a right to make their own choices, and while I general support the right of parents to make choices for their children...I do have concerns about this case. While in an ideal world, everyone would be evaluated on an individual basis when it comes to their ability to make medical decisions, that's not realistic. That's the general reason for setting an age requirement.

In this case, this person's parents are likely the most significant influences in his life. If they are unsupportive of treatment and also control the information that he can access (especially due to his inability to read or access information on his own) and his interpretation of it, then it certainly is reasonable to expect that their bias may influence him.

[ 05-22-2009, 08:58 PM: Message edited by: KittenGoddess ]

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Sarah Liz

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